When life does not seem to make sense...

Pastor Calvin Loh’s Testimony: As he first shared publicly on April 25, 2014

Prelude


When my children were much younger, my wife and I had on several occasions avoided their difficult questions by telling them that they would know the answers later when they grow up. I hope I had not given them the impression that adults understand everything, which is not so. The fact is - as a grown up myself, there are so many things happening in life for which I had no answer to.


How come this happened to me?


My being stricken with cancer is one good example. It's been two weeks since I underwent surgery to remove the malignant tumor in me. And I was told yesterday that it is a Stage II cancer that will require 9 weeks of chemotherapy. Frankly speaking, I do not understand why God has allowed this to happen to me. Sure, God loves me and does not move without purpose or plan (of course I know that!), but I did not then understand why it is His

will that I should be stricken with cancer. I think about the pain, suffering and agony, not to mention the discomfort and inconvenience I have to put up with. I have no confidence of coping with such since my pain tolerance has always been pretty low. I also think about the stress that it'll bring to my wife and kids, as well as the many church plans that I will have to put on hold for the next few months.


Shall I turn to God with my questions?


In times like this, it is so natural to keep questioning God in the hope of making some sense of the chaos I am facing. Like Job, there is a part in me that hopes that God will just tell me why I need to walk this path, but there is another part within me that reminds me that this is not the

way to deal with my situation. After all, Job did ask God why he had to suffer so much afflictions, but up till the end God never really gave him the answer that he wanted. This does not mean that God was unwilling to give him an answer, but it is just that he wouldn't have understood even if He did so. And I am no better as well. It is simply impossible for a finite creature like me who is bound by space and time and constrained by my limited knowledge and reasoning ability to comprehend the acts of an infinitely wise God who sees from the beginning to the end. It is just like a very young child trying to understand the mindset of his parents.


I choose to have faith in God’s will for me and trust Him who is in control


Ultimately, all that I have to fall back upon in this difficult time is the knowledge of God's love and wisdom, as well as the past experience of His goodness and deliverance. In other words, everything that has happened to me in the past are meant to prepare me for the present and the future. By constantly reflecting on who He is and what He has done in my life, it will give me the strength to walk the path that He has prepared, and instill in me the confidence that all will be well in the end, though the present may be filled with darkness.


"It is of the LORD's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore, will I hope in him. The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD." (Lamentations 3:22-26)

6 years later, on May 19, 2020:


Let me continue from where I left off on April 25, 2014.

Time flies. 6 years have passed since I first discovered I had cancer and underwent surgery and chemotherapy. It will be really nice if I can end my sharing with ‘and I lived together with my loved ones happily ever after’, but life is not like that. As Scripture has pointed out,


“…man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward.” (Job 5:7)

I was hospitalized three times


During those six years, I was hospitalized 3 times in three different hospitals. During the second time in 2017, the doctor had to remove some residual cancer tumors. And to do so, my stomach had to be cut open 22 cm top-down. The same thing happened again in 2019 when the medical team attending to me discovered two benign tumor growths (unrelated to my cancer) outside my large and small intestines. Another 22cm cut of my stomach, almost on the same line. I experienced excruciating pain as the surgery reopened the first surgery wound.


And a fourth time

Then came my fourth hospitalization on January 1, this year at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital because of Urinary Infection Treatment.


I had been kept cheerful in suffering...


That day happened to be my wedding anniversary. When I registered myself at the A&E department, the doctor who was looking through my medical history suddenly looked at me and asked, “Mr. Loh, you went through so much suffering how can you still look so cheerful?" For a moment, I didn’t know how to answer her because all this while, this never crossed my mind at all. Frankly, I never considered why I could remain cheerful, or at least did not complain and murmur all these years of suffering and agony.


"It is of the LORD's mercies….”


As I think back over the years, I realize one thing - Yes, it is true that I did go through many painful experiences in the past. And I am praying very hard that I won’t need to go through them again. But I have to admit that in every painful experience that I went through, I also experienced God’s lovingkindness towards me. There were many occasions when God heard my prayers and granted me relief when I thought I couldn’t take it any further. Also, in the quietness of the nights, God taught me many lessons that I would never have learned had I not been hospitalized.


I can testify that it is all His love and care that I experienced from the Lord in the midst of my sufferings that cheered me up, and granted me the strength to keep moving forward without lapsing into murmuring and bitterness.



In conclusion


As I have shared earlier on, I do not know why God allowed me to go through all these sufferings; neither do I know what will happen to me in the future. But one thing I do know - Jesus truly loves me, and He is the One who is leading me along my life’s journey and in full control. This is all that I need to know.


“It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord.” - Lamentations 3:22-26

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